Before I deactivated my Facebook account (which is now reactivated :-)) I had quoted one of Stephen King’s characters from The Mist: “As a species we’re fundamentally insane. Put more than two of us in a room, we pick sides and start dreaming up reasons to kill one another. Why do you think we invented politics and religion?”
This is not my quote. This is from a work of fiction. But clearly it is an idea the author has thought about (but does not mean that he believes it). There was a time when it made sense to me. And it still does to a large extent. But I am older and wiser (I hope) and have a slightly better understanding of both religion and politics. They both (need to) exist to bring us together towards a common vision to create a better world than we live in today. Religion brings us together and politics keeps us on the path to achieve our collective vision. And with my better understanding of these concepts is the realisation that they can and sometimes are being used for evil purposes. And so I would rephrase it slightly to read: “As a species we’re fundamentally insane. Put more than two of us in a room and the most insane of us will force us to pick sides and use religion and politics to dream up reasons to kill one another.”
This is a very cynical way of looking at things, but after the attacks in Kenya and Nigeria how much can you really argue against it?
I wrote before that I had fallen in love with Africa. It is a difficult love. Imagine coming home every day to your wife or your husband knowing there’s a possibility s/he will snap and kill everyone in the house. What would you do, stop coming home? Sleep with your own AK-47 under the mattress? You may think it’s farfetched and ridiculous. But when you get to Nigeria for the first time and you are escorted by armed guards to your hotel, or you arrive in Zanzibar and read about the tourists that had acid thrown at them in the streets, well you begin to wonder. And when 67 people are killed in a relatively cosmopolitan city in Kenya in a shopping mall, people like you and I, then wonder turns to belief.
This is what travelling into Africa has become. Sometimes it’s not as easy as divorcing your spouse and not coming home. Sometimes you love them too much to leave them.
And what if love is not enough? Well, the answer to that is it has to be enough. Some of us may have the luxury of the option to live somewhere else. The rest of us must recognise that not coming home is not an option, that Africa needs us as much as we need her. But first we must accept our fundamental insanity and understand how easily religion and politics can be manipulated to exploit that very insanity within us.
I love my country and I will continue to nurture my growing love for Africa. Not despite the recent attacks but because of them.